“The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” (Matthew 9:37).
These words speak of the great need for more vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life. Christ has enjoined each of us to take up the cause of providing more laborers for his harvest, and one of the foundations of fostering these vocations must be prayer. Next week we will mark National Vocation Awareness Week, a time for all Catholics to renew their commitment to supporting vocations to the priesthood and religious life. This renewal must first begin with prayer and the offering of daily prayers for an increase of vocations to the priesthood.
Each Catholic bears the responsibility to foster more vocations in the Church. Here in the Diocese of Providence, we have been blessed in recent years with an increase of vocations as more young men across the state have begun to discern their call to the priesthood. Beginning next Monday, in a very special way through prayer, celebrations, and even television commercials the message that we need more people to encourage, support and pray for vocations is being broadcast throughout all of Rhode Island.
Christ has not stopped calling young men to follow him as priests, nor young women to answer the call of consecrated life. But too many young people cannot hear that call over the noise and distractions of our consumerist secular culture.
Pope Benedict XVI, in an address to young people during World Youth Day, states: "If we let Christ into our lives, we lose nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing of what makes life free, beautiful and great. No! Only in this friendship are the doors of life opened wide. Only in this friendship is the great potential of human existence truly revealed. Only in this friendship do we experience beauty and liberation. And so, today, with great strength and great conviction, on the basis of long personal experience of life, I say to you, dear young people: Do not be afraid of Christ! He takes nothing away, and he gives you everything. When we give ourselves to him, we receive a hundredfold in return. Yes, open, open wide the doors to Christ, and you will find true life. Amen."
Next week, we ask all Catholics to take up the charge to pray for more vocations, to invite a young person to consider becoming a priest or religious, and to support the effort to bring more laborers to the harvest. Working together in prayer and with action we can make a difference and “open wide the doors to Christ.”